Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

I saw the “Family Hub” fridge at CES 2016, and was assured by a Samsung representative that it wasn’t a joke. It is a serious product you can now buy in stores, but it probably shouldn’t be.

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By default, Windows will automatically put your PC to sleep after several minutes of inactivity, or when you close the lid. It will hibernate your computer a certain number of minutes later, but if you’d rather it hibernate more often, the settings are a bit tricky to find.

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When you first install the Ubuntu Bash shell on Windows 10, you’ll be asked to create a username and password for the Bash environment. Bash will automatically sign into that user account whenever you launch the shell, but you can change it–and its password.

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Windows 10’s “Bash on Ubuntu on Windows” environment contains a few different components. The first time you run the bash.exe program, it will download and install an entire Ubuntu user space environment. You can access these files in File Explorer or other Windows programs, if you know where to look.

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Can you transfer your Windows license between PCs? It depends–the answer isn’t so cut and dried.

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Microsoft Office allows you to add more functionality through add-ins. Many modern add-ins also work with Office for iPad, Office Online, and Office for Mac–not just traditional desktop versions of Office for Windows.

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Windows 10’s new Ubuntu-based Bash shell doesn’t function like a normal program. To uninstall it or reset its state to get a fresh Linux environment, you’ll need to use a few special commands.

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Various tests–like this one at PCWorld–show Windows 10’s Movies & TV app offering more than double the battery life of VLC and other video players. This is because Movies & TV uses hardware acceleration, though, and VLC can too–you just have to enable it first. Then, you’ll be able to enjoy the advanced features of your favorite video player without the battery hit.

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Microsoft’s Xbox One includes a 500GB hard drive, but games are getting larger and larger. Halo: The Master Chief Collection takes up more than 62GB alone, even if you have the game on a physical disc. Here’s how to free up space so you have room for more games.

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Is your computer unstable? There may be a problem with its RAM. To check, you can either use a hidden system tool included with Windows or download and boot a more advanced tool.

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Macs automatically go into a low power sleep mode when you leave them idle for several minutes, or when you close your laptop’s lid. Some Macs also support “standby mode”, which is basically the same as hibernate on a Windows PC. Here’s how to configure when your Mac hibernates.

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Boot up or restart your Mac and it’ll make the traditional “startup chime” sound”. This lets you know the Mac is starting up properly, but it isn’t appropriate if you’re booting up your Mac in a quiet location like a library, or if someone is sleeping nearby.

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NVIDIA’s ShadowPlay offers easy gameplay recording, live streaming, and even an FPS counter overlay. It can automatically record gameplay in the background–just on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One–or only record gameplay when you tell it to.

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Chromebooks can now download and install Android apps from Google Play, and it works pretty well. But not every Android app is available in Google Play. Some apps are available from outside Google Play as APK files, and you can install them on your Chromebook with a bit of extra work.

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The Performance Monitor is one of many useful tools buried deep in Windows. It can generate a System Diagnostics Report with information about problems and suggestions of how to fix them. If your computer isn’t performing well or is experiencing another problem, this quick report might be able to help.

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Microsoft’s Xbox One has limited support for some types of physical keyboards, but not mice. Connect a keyboard and you can use it to type text more conveniently than using the on-screen keyboard with your controller.

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The Windows Control Panel includes a variety of “troubleshooters” designed to quickly diagnose and automatically solve various computer problems. Troubleshooters can’t fix everything, but they’re a great place to start if you encounter a problem with your computer.

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Sony’s PlayStation 4 includes a 500GB hard drive, but games are getting bigger and bigger–Grand Theft Auto V alone requires 50GB of space on the hard drive, even if you have the disc. Here’s how to free up space–and upgrade your PS4’s storage capacity so you can fit more games.

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Robot vacuums sound great. They do the vacuuming for you, saving time and hassle. And they’ve come down in price, too–you can get a decent Roomba for a little over $300. But while plenty of people seem happy with their Roombas, I decided to return mine. Vacuuming still isn’t fun, but a solid cordless vacuum is more useful to me than a gimmicky robot.

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Thanks to the frequent sales, PC games just cost less than console games. If you’re patient and know the tricks, you can save quite a bit of money. Almost every game seems to regularly go on sale.

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Sony’s official PlayStation app, available for both Android phones and iPhones, allows you to remotely control your PS4. Use it as a playback remote or a keyboard for quickly typing without relying on the PS4’s controller and on-TV keyboard.

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The Oculus Rift is locked down by default, and will only run games and apps from Oculus’s own store. You’ll see an “Unknown Source” message on the Rift if you try to run something else. But change one setting, and you can use Valve’s SteamVR or any other Rift-enabled app or game.

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The Oculus Rift offers a polished virtual reality experience, even though it doesn’t have the room-scale virtual reality or touch controllers like the HTC Vive–yet. Here’s how to set up your Oculus Rift, and what you’ll need to know ahead of time.

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Microsoft removed Windows Media Center from Windows 10, and there’s no official way to get it back. While there are great alternatives like Kodi, which can play and record live TV, the community has made Windows Media Center functional on Windows 10.

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Microsoft’s Xbox SmartGlass app allows you to launch games, browse TV listings, and control apps on your Xbox One. You can even use it to stream live TV from your Xbox One to your phone. It’s available for Android phones, iPhones, Windows 10 and 8, and even Windows phones.

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